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Tears of Gold – portraits of the persecuted

Tears of Gold – portraits of the persecuted


Hannah Rose Thomas’s shifting portraits are contained inside her new guide Tears of Gold.(Photo: Open Doors)

Artist and human rights activist Hannah Rose Thomas has travelled the world main trauma-healing artwork workshops with girls affected by conflict. Her debut artwork guide Tears of Gold presents her portraits of girls in battle zones who’ve survived conflict and sexual violence. Her shifting portraits have been acknowledged by King Charles III, who wrote the foreword to the guide.


Christian Today spoke together with her on International Women’s Day on the Tears of Gold exhibition in London to listen to about her motivation behind the guide, the affect her artwork workshops have had on victims of violence and battle, and the way her religion has been inspired via her work.

What spurred you on to provide Tears of Gold?

When I lived in Jordan as an Arabic pupil in 2014, I had a possibility to organise artwork initiatives with Syrian refugees for the UN Refugee Agency – an expertise which opened my eyes to the magnitude of the refugee disaster confronting our world right this moment.

I started to color the portraits of a few of the refugees I had met, to point out the individuals behind the worldwide disaster, whose private tales are in any other case typically shrouded by statistics. My expertise in Jordan additionally opened my eyes to the therapeutic energy of the humanities and its potential as a software for advocacy. I’m conscious that what I’ve been concerned with to this point is however a glimpse of the potential therapeutic and restorative energy of the humanities as a catalyst for change.

Please share a bit in regards to the work you probably did with Open Doors in Nigeria.

Through the help of Open Doors, I had the privilege of facilitating trauma-healing artwork workshops. In northern Nigeria. I taught the ladies learn how to paint their self-portraits as a option to share their tales. Many of the ladies selected to color themselves with glistening tears of gold: this impressed the title of the guide. One younger girls Aisha, who had suffered rape by the hands of Fulani militants, mentioned that the gold tears symbolised God bestowing on her a crown of magnificence as a substitute of ashes; the oil of pleasure as a substitute of mourning (Isaiah 61:3).

What responses have you ever needed to your trauma-healing artwork workshops?

The hope was that these artwork initiatives would create an area that honours the expertise and the ladies’s tales, and for every individual to really feel seen and heard. This is particularly vital given the stigma, disgrace and silence surrounding points akin to sexual violence. The arts will help by giving a brand new type of communication to handle the silence and unspeakable ache. Feelings are communicated via drawing and portray that maybe can’t be expressed via phrases.

Is there a survivor’s story that has caught with you?

In northern Nigeria, one lady who took half within the artwork workshop, known as Charity, had been kidnapped by Boko Haram and held captive for 3 years. [After being freed by the Nigerian military] Charity mentioned, “I can recount three completely different instances that I used to be crushed by my husband as a result of I got here again with a baby. I’ve instructed him ‘I have not performed it out of my very own will. I used to be compelled and there was nothing I might do.”

She faces day by day rejection and isolation within the Internally Displaced Persons camp in northern Nigeria because of the stigma surrounding sexual violence. On our final day collectively for the artwork undertaking Charity mentioned, “I’m so blissful. I’ve by no means held a pencil in my life earlier than, and that is the primary time I’ve been in a position to write my identify and even to attract my face!”

What do you assume the Church can do to help girls in battle zones?

Conflict leaves many wounds, however maybe probably the most important of all is the invisible stigma that so many survivors of sexual violence face. The perceived affiliation of survivors and their kids born of war-time rape with the enemy compounds the ache, disgrace, isolation and trauma. I witnessed this in northern Nigeria, which was heartbreaking to see. The Church can do extra to help, welcome, honour and worth girls who’ve endured conflict-related sexual violence. This will assist to counteract the stigma and disgrace and thereby allow therapeutic inside the communities who’ve suffered such violence.

What is the method behind your work? Do you meet with the ladies beforehand to have a dialogue?

The approach I like to work probably the most is spending time with the ladies doing the artwork workshops, in Iraq and northern Nigeria. It was solely via that point that the girl would share their tales in the event that they wished to. It was after that point of sharing their tales I’d then ask in the event that they have been nonetheless blissful to be painted. I’d take pictures of them after they’d share their tales to color from and I did these work after I returned dwelling. I take advantage of very time consuming early renaissance portray strategies and discover it is a type of prayer utilizing these portray methods. It’s a time the place I’m fascinated with every of the ladies and their tales whereas I paint and I maintain them in my coronary heart and pray for them whereas I paint.

As you have been portray the ladies, what went via your thoughts?

Often tears would come to my eyes as I remembered their tales and what they have been via, but additionally the understanding of the scenario they have been nonetheless in. I used to be returning dwelling to security however they have been in refugee camps in northern Nigeria and Iraqi Kurdistan and these different contexts. The reminiscence of every lady and their tales was so vivid in my thoughts. They are simply emblazoned in my coronary heart and my reminiscence. I consider the work as being a type of lament and grief for these girls.

How has your religion been inspired via the work that you simply do?

I’ve been modified in so some ways by these girls that I’ve met. I really feel prefer it really has been the best privilege to fulfill them and to have been entrusted to share their tales and portraits and in addition their extraordinary religion as properly. In northern Nigeria the ladies I labored with via Open Doors got here from Christian backgrounds and so they had such religion in God’s goodness. They confirmed such kindness, grace and pleasure, it was infectious. I got here away remembering what Jesus says, that the primary will probably be final and the final will probably be first into heaven. I believe that these girls wished to be painted in a approach that nearly appeared regal. They could also be forgotten on earth or they may not be well-known on earth, however despite what they’ve suffered they would be the most honoured girls in heaven. That was one thing I wished to seize via these work.

What do you hope individuals will achieve from the guide?

Through my portrait work I search to convey that every of us are created within the picture of God and equally useful in His eyes, no matter race, faith or gender. The arts affirm the language of empathy – they will present us with a language for mediating the damaged relational and cultural divides.



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